It Starts with You.

It you were hoping for a post about knitting or gardening, or cows and kitties, this isn’t it.   But read on… because this post is about you and what you can do to make your life better. This is an essay about our culture… our problem… and how to fix it.Its not about gun control.  Its not that simple.  Our problem with violence is bigger and more pervasive than simply signing and attempting to enforce legislation.  The problem is much bigger and more pervasive than one person with a gun. The problem is the culture acceptance of violence to begin with.  And until we collectively realize and deal with that…we will continue to witness events like mass shootings and bombings. 

This is a post originally written over two years ago, but the recent mass shooting in South Carolina makes it just as relevant today as I was when I wrote it as a reaction to the school shooting in New Town, CT.

PeaceHands

Today I want to talk about violence. We’re seeing violent behavior in increasing levels in our young people. I realize humans have been acting violently toward one another since the beginning of time, but I don’t think you can argue that violent acts are certainly more commonplace and more socially acceptable now than ever before.  Its acceptable in our main stream culture to watch people bomb one another, shoot each other, rape each other and kill each other.  We do it everyday… on our screens.

We have one of the most violent cultures in the world. Our media is filled with images of death, murder, guns, fighting and sex. We buy it and we support it. When you watch an action adventure movie on cable, you support the culture of violence. When you watch a new James Bond movie or Son’s of Anarchy episode, you’re supporting violence. You are.  You’re condoning violence.  You support a culture that has become callous to hurting each other. Then we all shake our heads in dismay and wonder why kids take guns to school. And don’t even get me started on the sexual component. As a collective culture, we have accepted the violence, even thrived on it. So why are we surprised when someone takes a gun to a mall and shoots people? Well, slap your forehead and say “duh.”

I truly believe that we make choices every day, that contribute to our children’s futures. I say that collectively: Our Children. While you may not be a parent, the children will grow up and affect you. While your children may be grown, today’s youth will make decisions and choices that impact you. So when I say “our children,” I mean it. You need to take responsibility too. We all do.What can you do? Turn it off. Stop watching. Stop buying the video games that contain fighting, war and guns. Stop buying magazines and movies that contain violence.

If you wouldn’t want to see it happen in front of you in real life, then don’t watch on the screen. It really is that simple.

We vote with our dollars. If we all stopped going to violent movies, the movie makers would stop making them. If we all stopped watching TV shows about murder, they wouldn’t make them. It starts with you. You control what goes into your brain. And you know what? Witnessing a murder isn’t okay. According to parentstv.org, “It is estimated that by the time an average child leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed 8,000 murders and over 100,000 other acts of violence. By the time that child is 18 years-of-age; he or she will witness 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders.”

About 4 years ago we realized that TV wasn’t such a great influence in our home. We were noticing commercials for erectile disfunction on major networks in the middle of the evening. Seriously! Thankfully our young daughters weren’t in the room at the time, but I really didn’t want to have to explain the purpose of Viagra to an 8 year old. We were noticing previews of crime shows during “family” shows. The previews were sometimes scary and graphic. Then we got DVR thinking that we’d record the shows that we wanted and zip through all the commercials and other nonsense. So we tried that for a while but it was expensive and we realized that we’re still voting with our dollars. We were still paying for all of it whether we watched it or not. So we canceled the whole entire thing. And we haven’t missed it. We order exactly what we want from Netflix or we watch exactly what we want on Hulu Plus, or we pick something from our own DVD library. We pay a whole lot less and we know exactly what our kids are watching.

Please think about that. The problem isn’t gun control. Gun control is only a fraction of the problem. The problem is the callousness of our culture, our widespread acceptance of violent acts. The issue of gun control is simply a distraction by those who don’t wish to deal with the root of the problem… our own choices.

The problem lies with you and me. But so does the solution.  I really think we can all try to be the change we want to see. You can make better, more wholesome choices with your TV remote, your movie tickets, the DVDs you buy. You can end the cycle of violence. Don’t read it, don’t watch it, don’t buy it.

Don’t you owe it to yourself? Don’t we owe it to each other?  Make a better choice.

Violence on TV Research

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